I am a woman born 1949 and my quest is to find a mindmate
to grow old together as a mutually devoted couple
in a relationship based upon the
egalitarian rational commitment paradigm
bonded by intrinsic commitment
as each other's safe haven and secure basis.

The purpose of this blog is to enable the right man
to recognize us as reciprocal mindmates and
to encourage him to contact me:

The entries directly concerning,
who could be my mindmate,
are mainly at the beginning.
If this is your predominant interest,
I suggest to read this blog in the same order
as it was written, following the numbers.

I am German, therefore my English is sometimes faulty.

Maybe you have stumbled upon this blog not as a potential match.
Please wait a short moment before zapping.

Do you know anybody, who could be my mindmate?
Your neighbour, brother, uncle, cousin, colleague, friend?
If so, please tell him to look at this blog.
While you have no reason to do this for me,
a stranger, maybe you can make someone happy, for whom you care.

Do you have your own webpage or blog,
which someone like my mindmate to be found probably reads?
If so, please mention my quest and add a link to this blog.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

711. Using A Non-Native Language

711.  Using A Non-Native Language

According to some feedback to this blog and to emails, some men perceive me as appearing hard, harsh, cold and even scary, while I mean to be blunt, direct, sincere and rational in my approach to cope with my emotional predispositions and needs.   My rejection of and discomfort with the typical gender roles adds to this.

This misrepresentation of my person is predominantly caused by my inability to ever reach the full and exact knowledge of how a native speaker of English intuitively and subtly perceives my utterances.    
I am aware of this trap, but this does not suffice.   Communication is between two sides, and this trap can only be avoided by the awareness on both sides. 

People never having experienced this themselves are often not aware of the subtle implications of seriously communicating in a non-native language.   Never having used a foreign language beyond coping in shops and restaurants during vacations, they tend to perceive and interpret any utterances alike, without distinguishing between native and non-native speakers.   It just does not occur to them to consider, that what they hear or read may not be exactly, what was meant and intended to be expressed.
In verbal speech the foreign accent serves as a reminder, that someone is a non-native speaker.  But when in written text grammar and spelling are mostly correct, this misleads the native speakers to overlook the problem.  Their spontaneous reaction to their perception and interpretation omits the benefit of the doubt.
Thus non-native speakers like myself are prone to be too often judged by how they express themselves before getting a chance to be evaluated by what has been written.   This precludes not only comprehension but even an attempt to comprehend.  

In entry 32 I already pointed out some of the reasons, why I may be misunderstood:

1.  Inexact use of words

"My knowledge of the meaning of words is sometimes fuzzy, inexact, missing subtlety.  (What I say about words, mostly is also valid for expressions.) I have learned many words by guessing their meaning out of the context, which started with a rough idea and got better with every time seeing it in a different context.   But this is still not the exact meaning, that it has for a native speaker.   
Also, using a dictionary is misleading.   Looking up a word and finding a corresponding word in English misleads me to think, that it would be an exact translation, while it really is not, but has different connotations in the two languages.
This leads to misunderstandings, when I use words, that do not exactly mean, what I think that they would mean."

2.  Apparent exaggerations
"Words in the native language have a felt magnitudes and sometimes inhibitions as a result.    The corresponding word in English is just a chain of letters or sounds.   
I have grown into strong inhibitions to use vulgar language in German.   I would recoil from using the German word for a**hole, while not using the English word is a conscious decision by knowing it being inappropriate, but not by feeling inhibitions. 
Whenever I want to put emphasis on something in English, I am using the strongest word, that I can think of, because no word ever feels strong enough, therefore I am probably sometimes appearing to exaggerate without knowing it."  

3.  The style of language depending upon the source of learning

A child grows into learning first the everyday variety of the spoken native language by being immersed into it.   Having learned any foreign language at school and/or having mainly used and still digesting materials like novels and scientific or newspaper articles has also an impact upon my way of expressing myself.    Using words, because they are frequent in those 19th century novels, which are available as audio books on librivox may appear odd and I cannot know this.  

So far, this was based upon my own subjective experience of the difference between using my native German and using other languages.  

But I just read about a study of similar tendencies:
" moral choices could depend on whether you are using a foreign language or your native tongue. A new study from psychologists finds that people using a foreign language take a relatively utilitarian approach to moral dilemmas, making decisions based on assessments of what’s best for the common good."

"That pattern holds even when the utilitarian choice would produce an emotionally difficult outcome"

"The researchers propose that the foreign language elicits a reduced emotional response. That provides a psychological distance from emotional concerns when making moral decisions."

"People are less afraid of losses, more willing to take risks and much less emotionally-connected when thinking in a foreign language."

"You probably learn foreign languages in less emotional settings like a classroom and it takes extra effort. The emotional content of the language is often lost in translation."

Superficially this study seems to suggest, that people may be prone to change their morals and attitudes with the language used.   I doubt this.   It seems to me more probable, that the foreign language allows people to be more genuine in what they say.   The use of a foreign language may instigate a process of introspection, which leads to free people from some emotional thought inhibitions acquired during childhood.   Having gained a better insight into their true attitudes, people are able not only to be more sincere to themselves but they have also the new option to be more consistent and sincere in what they admit to others.